on 8 May 2000
Of all the Richard Jury-featured novels, I think that "The Five Bells and Bladebone" if by far my favorite.
How can one resist such an opening when Martha Grimes launches us into her ninth Jury episode with this sentence: "What else could you think of but getting your throat slit?"
Grimes' penchant for landscape and atmosphere holds true in this book. "It was a twenty minute walk from the flat in Limehouse to the Town of Ramsgate, and she was irritated that they'd decided on what he called a 'dress rehearsal....hadn't they been over it and over it? And she didn't dare tell him that Tommy was coming in tomorrow night. He'd have killed her."
Is this the quintessential narrative hook or not? And Grimes doesn't let up until the final pages.
Marshall Trueblood (one of Grimes' recurring characters and resident antiques dealer in Long Pidd) discovers a dismembered corpse in an antique desk. Superintendent Jury soon establishes a connection between this death and the murder of a Limehouse lady named Sadie Driver. With his faithful Sergeant Wiggins, Jury begins to do what he is best known for: solving crimes. And no Jury book would be complete without close friend Melrose Plant, the aristocratic and (de)titled Peer, whose insight, connections, wealth, good wit (he does the London Times crossword in record time, whether the answers are correct or not!), and his Aunt Agatha, is of immense aid to Jury. American writer Grimes titles her Jury books with names of actual pubs. If you track this one down (there's a good map in the book), be careful! It really is in a section of London that should make you think twice before going--I chose noon on a Sunday and STILL was intimidated, getting my pint, quickly swallowed, and OUT of there! (Actually, it is an unassuming pub with lots of character--it's just that the locals NEVER cotton to outsiders, especially foreigners! But the ale was good! Grimes told me last October, however, that the pub had actually undergone some renovation!)
Regardless, for the many fans of Grimes/Jury, "The Five Bells and the Bladebone" is not one to miss. It's my cup of tea (or pint of lager!).